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Rampage

Based on a video game series ‘Rampage’ has a lot to live up to. Not only does it feature Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who is currently Hollywood’s box office prince, but has to avoid the stigma of game to screen films. ‘Super Mario Brothers’ and ‘Streetfighter’ are a couple of the celluloid atrocities committed in the name of raking in cash. Unfortunately ‘Rampage’ is more of the same with a dreadful script failing to hide behind a mass of CGI that would shame the most basic of computer programmers.

Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) is a primatologist who is the head of an anti-poaching unit. Determined to protect any species, his latest target is George, a giant gorilla who has been infected with a mysterious disease. Turning into a rampaging beast, George has been joined by a wolf and crocodile who have also been turned into ginormous creatures. Aided by genetic engineer Kate (Naomie Harris), Davis must save America from destruction and find out how the infection began before even more hell unleashes.

‘Rampage’ is the type of block-buster Hollywood churns out with boring regularity. Spending a fortune on CGI with little else spent on characterisation and tension, you have ‘Rampage’. You know what to expect when the movie starts – virtuous heroes, hiss-able villains, a little romance and lots of special effects wizardry. It’s all here with Brad Peyton pushing the required buttons rather than directing anything resembling creative flair.

The few savage graces of ‘Rampage’ belong to the performances. Johnson almost carries the entire movie on his established charisma and has fun as buildings crash around him. Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a shady government agent also enjoys being amongst the hijinks with his smile as big as the paycheque he’ll receive. The mean-spirited moments of grisly gore goes against the ‘family friendly’ tone ‘Rampage’ aims for, making for a narrative just as messy as the debris the monsters leave behind.

‘Rampage’ is dopey entertainment for the popcorn brigade. It goes through the motions with depressing predictability and the money spent being enough to feed a small army. Computer games will never go out of style although films such as ‘Rampage’ need to up their game in providing something more exciting than a standard morass of noise and over-cooked carnage.

Rating out of 10: 5

Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson has long been an exciting film-maker. Directing such peculiar comedies as ‘Rushmore’, ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, his flair for discovering humour in mundane situations has been unequalled. His variety of work has made his output consistently engaging with ‘Isle of Dogs’ delivering another quality production. Using stop-motion animation, his latest is aimed at the young at heart with Anderson’s gleeful observations of life’s foibles on full display.

In the near future, Japan’s canine population is in the grip of a deadly flu virus. The Mayor of Megasaki City takes drastic action and sends every dog to Trash Island. One of the first dogs to be sent to Trash Island belongs to the Mayor’s ward 12 year old Atari Kobayashi, who goes on a desperate mission to rescue his four legged pal. After an arduous journey to the island, Atari encounters a group of dogs who promise to help find his lost pooch. With time running out before the Mayor takes even more drastic actions, Atari and his friends race against the clock before tragedy strikes.

Using a mix of animation styles, ‘Isle of Dogs’ stands out. From the smooth look of Megasaki City to the ragged roughness of Trash Island, each scene comes alive. Animation is for all, not just for children, with ‘Isle of Dogs’ displaying substantial themes amongst the hand-drawn wonders. Whilst its simple story of a boy searching for his dog is nothing new, the way Anderson uses it to craft a tale uniquely his own shows his command of the craft.

Credit also goes to the voice actors who convey the desperation and ruthlessness of their characters. Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and others bring their considerable experience to fully flesh out their roles. The infusion of Japanese culture gives ‘Isle of Dogs’ a different look with the various local traditions displayed having much visual impact. Mixed with a sly blend of humour and pathos, ‘Isle of Dogs’ has enough to ensure viewers remain engaged.

Any Wes Anderson movie is usually an ‘event’. ‘Isle of Dogs’ is another in his rich tapestry of work. Wryly quirky with gorgeous animated vistas, Anderson’s career certainly hasn’t gone to the dogs with this endlessly inventive effort.

Rating out of 10: 7